Archive for November, 2008

The chestnut question

November 25th, 2008

During wintertime, sometime from October to March, so-called “Maronibrater” offer roasted Maroni (Sweet Chestnuts) everywhere here in Vienna (and in most other larger European towns). I am very lucky that one of the best roasters in town happens to have his stall around the corner from where I live. If you are in Vienna I highly recommend to go to Rochusmarkt in the 3rd district and to try for yourself. Achmed’s stall is at the start of Sechskrügelgasse, next to the Rochuskirche.

The prices for chestnuts are 1.5 Euro for 7 pieces, 2 for 10, and 3 for 16. Often when someone asks for 7 chestnuts Achmed answers with a question like this: “Seven. Do you want exactly seven?”

When I am there, having my chitchat with Achmed, eating chestnuts, Langos (another delicious specialty), and eventually drinking an Arabian coffee (though, available only for regular customers, I am afraid;) it baffles me again and yet again how many people answer his question with

“Yes, please. Exactly seven.”

Lying with numbers

November 24th, 2008

99% of all numbers provided to support an argument — be it in scientific or popular media — have no value whatsoever unless they come with proper mention of at least the confidence intervals, the size of the sample and its properties, or other means of making reliability comparable such as standard deviation.

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You are 93.9% less likely to die from a meteor landing on your head if you keep reading this blog

November 23rd, 2008

I guess I do have a somewhat weird sense of humor. Anyway, as the headline already suggests, this is serious matter. Your very health is at stake. Not just science.

You are 80% less likely to die from a meteor landing on your head if you wear a bicycle helmet all day, by Ben Goldrace, Bad Science blog, 2008-11-15

And, yes, this great posting had me laughing from the headline to the end :D
Thanks, Ben.

There is no love

November 18th, 2008

R: I just wonder what the meaning of our union is, especially. If there is a love, and it is what we wish it were, is this love?
E: There is no love, but if there were, and it existed as we might wish it doesn’t, then I daresay we are.

— “Human apes” by Ontological Damnation

Tags and clouds

November 17th, 2008

WordPress, the software we use here, recently added support for tags. I always hoped to be able to assign more attributes and provide links to related entries. This is now possible thanks to great efforts of the WordPress community

During the last weeks I copied my tags from my old and abandoned system. Now, about half of the entries have tags, and also the tag cloud is growing. Within the next weeks I will add tags to the rest of the entries.

A soft cut

November 16th, 2008

For those who know what science means in its very original sense it is obvious that the exact sciences are at least the lesser of two evils. No one wants contused lacerations.

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A crisis

November 14th, 2008

Dow Jones Industrial index 1900-2008

[Dow Jones Industrial Average Index from 1900 until today on a logarithmic scale; chart courtesy of, click the image for details.]

Now that there is so much talk about the (financial) crisis I see that the word crisis of course shares its etymology with one of my most favorite words: critique.
Come on folks, let’s have a closer look. Let’s be critical about the “crisis”.



November 13th, 2008

every time i see the word “misled,” i read it to myself at first as miss-eld and wonder what that word means. and then i think, oh, that’s right. misled.

— Juliet Small Ernst, Touch Touch Publishing Blog, 2008-10-10